✦ She’s only gone and done it!
Phuket-based Aussie fighter Celest Muriel Hansen won her final fight in the Fairtex Road to ONE Thailand tournament at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok on October 29, an achievement that is set to change her life.
The 28-year-old Australian defeated Thai opponent Lomannee in the women’s 52.2kg atomweight class on a majority points decision.
In doing so she became the first winner of the finals stage of the tournament which saw a total of eight female and male fighters compete across a range of different weight classifications.
The victory means Celest secures a six-fight contract worth US$100,000 with Asia powerhouse sports group ONE Championship, one of the world’s top 10 biggest sports media properties in terms of viewership and engagement.
After a hard-fought five-round bout against Lomannee, Celest waited in the centre of the ring with the referee and her opponent to hear the outcome. Clearly emotionally and physically exhausted, the tension and anticipation was etched on her face as she awaited the announcement that could change her life for the better.
All three judges scored the fight 48-47 in Celest’s favour and the fighter in the black corner was declared the champion.
Celest fell to her knees in floods of tears, overwhelmed by the announcement and a range of emotions, including the realisation that her dreams had come true.
“When I first watched the clip back of me falling to my knees in the ring, sobing uncontrollably I thought maybe I looked a bit silly,” Celest commented after the fight.
“It’s scary to be vulnerable in public but I was just so overwhelmed, relieved and delighted that I could not help it, it was just how I felt at that very moment.
“I also think, on reflection, that it is ok to show that vulnerable side in the heat of the moment, when emotions run high and you are so overwhelmed by so many feelings. It’s ok to cry with happiness, it’s ok to cry with sadness, it’s ok to show whatever emotion you have. After all, we are all human beings, not robots! In a way I hope my reaction in the ring can maybe inspire any vulnerable people out there to not be afraid to express your true emotions,” she added.
The victory was the culmination of a long journey for Celest, with three separate fights contested over three separate months.
“I feel like I have developed so much on this journey through the tournament. Every fight camp I get stronger, more confident and learn so much about myself, “ she said prior to her final fight against Lomannee on October 29.
“The tournament has been so long but it has been an amazing experience that I am so grateful for.”
Her first fight in the tournament took place at Lumpinee Stadium on August 13 against Phetsinin Sor Phuangthong, who Celest knocked to the ground twice before delivering a devastating TKO in round 2.
She then faced a sterner test in her semi-final clash against Duangdaonoi Looksaikongdin on September 17, once again at Lumpinee. Duangdaonoi controlled things in the first round but Celest stepped up her game in the second and had the better of proceedings by the final round, eventually emerging as the winner on a points decision at the end of the three-round contest.
Two testing fights with a serious training regime over three months was a tough undertaking. However, Celest was fully focused throughout, determined to capture the prize that would impact her and her future so significantly.
“All the hard work was worth it,” she said after her victory in the final fight against Lomannee on October 29. “There was so many times I wanted to give up, so many things happened to me where I could have thrown the towel in but I am not a quitter and wanted to win so much more!”
Celest has played an integral role as part of a drive to change attitudes and open up opportunities for women in the sport. She made history at Lumpinee Stadium in November 2021 by becoming the first ever female Muay Thai athlete to set foot in its ring when she fought Kullanat Ornok after the authorities reversed their policy on women fighters, who were previously banned from competing at the venue.
It was a landmark moment that she is especially proud of.
“When I first started it was so hard,” she reflects. “Opportunites for women were limited and I felt like giving up. When I said I wanted to be the first woman to fight at Lumpinee Stadium people laughed at me and said that was never going to happen.
“However, I kept pushing, didn’t give up and all the hard work has paid off. And that’s the message I want to share with everyone – not to give up, to keep on pushing.
“I am so blessed to have people in my life that support me and motivate me to want to achieve. From an early age my parents always supported me and my coaching team at Phuket Singha Muaythai Gym are simply incredible – a huge thank you to Kru Pat, Nantaporn Opor Nutcharas and Kru Nart as I could not have done this without you.
“I also would like to thank all my team mates at the gym in Phuket who have trained and sparred with me and everyone that has supported me on this amazing journey.
“It’s just incredible and still hasn’t fully sunk in yet. I was the once the young girl who couldn’t even do a star jump and now I will be fighting in ONE Championship.
“I hope I can show people that if you really want it and you set your mind to achieving it in the right manner then anything is possible and dreams can come true.”
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